COFFEE TALK + IF UPDATE

Happy Daylight Savings Sunday! Who’s dragging this morning?

Oddly, I woke up at my usual 5:30 AM and didn’t even realize it was really 4:30 because my phone automatically changed times during the night. It wasn’t until I got downstairs and started making my coffee that I noticed how dark it was outside.

I’m sure I’ll feel it as the day wears on, but for now, I’m going to roll with it.

We’ve had nice weekend, how about you?

Our kitchen backsplash got installed on Friday, and the guys were here till dinnertime, so we just ordered pizza and hung out at home and watched TV.

Yesterday morning, I went to a Bible study with the ladies at church, and then I ran to the mall for a few things I needed. We got together with friends last night, and today we have our usual church plans.

My son has Spring Break this week, so he’ll be coming in sometime this afternoon. The girls have school as usual, so we didn’t plan any travel. It’s a good thing, since everyone seems to be in a tizzy over this virus.

Speaking of which, my mom and I are debating changing our plans to fly to Boston in two weeks. We may just drive it after all, which is a bummer, because I was looking forward to hopping on a plane and being there in 90 minutes.

Oh, well. The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men…

I’m not worried about contracting the virus, but I am worried about getting stuck in a quarantine situation. Although it seems like most cases are self-quarantines, so maybe we’d be okay. We’re going to wait a few more days to decide.

In other news, I’ve had a few requests for an update on my intermittent fasting journey, so I thought I’d make that the focus of today’s Coffee Talk.

Intermittent Fasting Update

I’m well into my third month, and I finally feel like I’m getting the hang of IF! (If you’re just tuning in, you can read my first few posts about IF to get caught up.)

First, a few disclaimers.

#1. This is not advice; it’s simply my personal story. I am not an expert on intermittent fasting… or much of anything, really. Please do your own research and make the best decision for you.

#2. If you are a naysayer, there is no need to lecture or warn me. I have done my research, and I’m quite confident in what I’m doing. You can certainly ask respectful questions, but I will not approve contentious comments.

#3. If you are curious, skeptical (trust me, I was too!) or just want to know more, I highly recommend reading Dr. Fung’s The Obesity Code. I also found Gin Stephens’ Delay, Don’t Deny extremely helpful.

Dr. Fung is a nephrologist who has successfully treated hundreds of patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes, and Gin Stephens is a former science teacher with an academic doctorate who is really good at breaking down and explaining the research around intermittent fasting.

Plus, Gin has experienced personal success and victory over obesity with intermittent fasting, so it’s nice to get both perspectives.

As for me, let’s start with a little backstory.

You may think I’m naturally thin, but while I was blessed with a good metabolism, I’ve been in a life-long battle with the scale, and I had a love/hate relationship with food for many years.

While I’ve always been a healthy weight by medical standards, it has fluctuated quite a bit over the years, and verrrry gradually gotten higher as I’ve gotten older. Like most Americans, I came to accept that gradual weight gain as we age is just part of life, and I tried to make peace with it.

I’ve done Jenny Craig, Slim Fast, Weight Watchers, 1-on-1 diet counseling, the 21 Day Sugar Detox, Whole30, FASTer Way To Fat Loss… and probably more diets that I can’t recall right now. They all worked for a time (except I never got the hang of FWTFL) but nothing gave me long-lasting success. Until I discovered IF, I figured that’s just the way it goes.

I don’t regret any of those experiences, though. Every diet I did taught me something, and even though I’m 25 pounds heavier than I was 25 years ago, I’m a heckuva lot healthier — both mentally and physically. And even though my weight crept up over the years, I developed better eating habits along the way, retrained my sweet tooth, and learned to pay more attention to my satiety signals.

Still, I wasn’t comfortable at the weight I kept coming back to, which was the 140-143 range, and it was getting harder and harder to drop even a few pounds.

I knew it was only going to get worse with age and menopause, and I desperately wanted to find a solution that’s healthy and sustainable and won’t make me feel deprived.

Enter intermittent fasting.

After dabbling in IF last summer and fall, I finally decided to commit at the end of last year. I joined the Delay, Don’t Deny Facebook Group, but that brought up even more questions.

I’m the kind of person who needs to dive into the research and really understand what I’m doing to give me the motivation to do something whole-heartedly and stick with it, so I ordered Delay, Don’t Deny and read it in less than a week. That gave me the information I needed to proceed with confidence.

After that, I read Dr. Fung’s book, and that’s really when it all came together.

I also found it extremely helpful to listen to episodes of the Intermittent Fasting Stories podcast. I learn so much from hearing people’s unique stories, and it helped me stay motivated to keep going and trust the process when I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted.

Three Month Update

At this point, I’m well into month three, and while I started IF for weight loss, I’ve learned that there are tons of related health benefits as well. People often find their cholesterol numbers get better, some can reduce their thyroid medication, some experience relief from migraines, to name a few.

The amount of energy I have is incredible, and I don’t lose mental focus throughout the day like I used to. I no longer get tired in the afternoons, and I remain productive all day.

This is very common with IF. Everyone Gin interviews in her podcast mentions the energy and mental focus as some of their first results. This is because digesting food takes a lot of energy.

When you aren’t constantly eating and asking your body to digest food all day long, you have more energy for other things… like living! Even if the scale never budged, I’d keep doing IF for the energy alone.

At first, I had difficulty sleeping, but that has evened out, and now I’m sleeping better than I have in months.

I’m hopeful that I will see other health benefits as I get further along, but aside from the increased energy, the most notable difference at this point is the number on the scale. That number is further supported by the inches I’ve lost and my smaller clothing size.

At this point, I’ve lost about 6 pounds, as well as 1.5 inches in my bust, waist, and hips. I’ve also gone down a pants size.

Most of that happened during the first couple of weeks, and I have to be honest, I was disappointed to see my weight loss level off and actually seesaw back and forth a bit during month two.

My measurements stayed about the same too, and I was also dealing with some unpleasant intestinal issues and bloating.

It wasn’t fun, but fortunately I was listening to the podcasts and lurking in the Facebook Group, and I knew that was often a normal part of the process. I was determined to stay the course and trust the process, and sure enough, things have finally leveled off, and the scale started moving again during month three.

I’ve been keeping a weight chart, as Gin suggests, and I only compare my weekly averages.

Oh, how I wish I’d known about this method years ago!!! I mean, we all KNOW the scale can fluctuate a few pounds day to day, and we KNOW better than to get caught up in that number, but it can really mess with your mind.

Now that I’m only comparing weekly averages, the number on the scale doesn’t make or break my day, and I am looking at true fat loss, not just daily fluctuations due to water weight and other random factors.

Several people have asked, and I’m sure more are wondering: What was my starting weight, and what is my goal weight?

My official starting weight was 142.

I kept trying to get the scale back under 140, and no matter what I did (before IF) it wasn’t happening. I saw numbers on the scale as low as 135 during the first month, but it hovered mostly in the 137-138 range during month two.

Right now, as I’m starting my third week of month three, I’m seesawing between 134 and 136. Last week’s average was the lowest one yet — 135.8.

So basically, I’ve gone from 142 to 136 in 11 weeks.

As for my goal weight? I don’t really have one.

I feel really good right now, and I don’t need to lose more weight to be content, but I wouldn’t mind being in the 132-135 range. I was pretty happy in that range for a large chunk of my 30s, and it wouldn’t mean going down another pants size. It would just make me more comfortable in the size 28 that I’m wearing right now.

I’m being very transparent about numbers because sharing clothes and how they fit is part of my job, and many of you depend on knowing those numbers to make your own purchasing decisions.

I also share these numbers because I want you to have realistic goals if you’re considering IF.

This is not a rapid weight loss plan.

This is a lifestyle change that will help you find and maintain your ideal weight, if you stick with it long enough. You also need to know that you may have to tweak your diet, especially if you don’t have a ton of weight to lose.

Which brings me to another question I get asked a lot: Can you really eat whatever you want during your eating window and lose weight?

The short answer is no.

When someone who practices IF says they eat whatever they want, that just means they don’t restrict certain foods. “Eat whatever you want” is not permission to eat all the things at once.

What and how much you can eat and still see weight loss results depends on your body, how insulin resistant you are, and how much weight you have to lose. It also changes over time.

Everyone’s IF journey is different, and what works for one person won’t work for someone else, so you really have to experiment and figure out what works for you.

What fasting does is enable you to listen to your body, and it eventually helps reset your satiety signals, so you aren’t as tempted to overeat.

The “whatever you want” part changes as you get more weeks and months behind you. Believe it or not, you will actually start to want foods that actually nourish and fuel your body with what it needs, and the ones that don’t become less and less appealing over time.

I was beginning to think that I was never going to get to that point, but within the past week or two, I finally have started to have those moments.

Another question I get a lot is: What is your eating:fasting window, and what times do you eat?

What I’m learning works best for me is what I intuitively knew from the start. I’ve played around with longer and shorter windows, but my happy place is 19:5 or 20:4.

That varies depending on how I feel and what my social schedule looks like, but I have the app on my phone set to 19:5. (I use the Zero app.)

I usually fast from 7PM until 2 or 3PM the next day. I usually break my fast with a small lunch or a snack, and then I eat dinner with the family. After dinner, I have a small piece of chocolate or a cookie, and I close my eating window.

I do not, however, recommend staring out with that small of an eating window. It’s generally advised to do 16:8 for the first month or so and gradually increase the fasting window if you want to.

Most people end up doing 18:6 or shorter eating windows because deep fat burning sets in between fasting hours of 16-24 hours. A lot of people play around with occasional longer fasts to optimize autophagy, but I haven’t done any of that yet and don’t really plan on it.

To answer another question I get a lot, I don’t know how many calories I eat, and I don’t count.

I haven’t significantly changed the foods that I eat, although I find myself avoiding cheese (formerly a favorite) because of some of those intestinal issues I mentioned earlier. I’ve also added Magnesium Citrate to my daily regimen. I take pills because the stuff you stir into drinks grosses me out.

The only other major change I’ve made since starting IF is committing to the clean fast. I think I mentioned this in one of my former updates, but I realized early on that the little bit of cream I was allowing myself to have in my coffee could be sabotaging my success, so I went to black coffee.

That or water is all I have while fasting. No stevia or cream in my coffee, no lemon in my water, just plain water or black coffee. Gin explains why this is important in her book, so I’ll just refer you to that.

It’s taken me this long, but I finally enjoy the taste of black coffee. Another victory for month three!

I could say so much more, but it’s time for me to get ready for church, and this post is already over 2,000 words!

If you aren’t an intermittent faster, this probably sounds hokey or faddish, and I get it. But fasting is nothing new, and there is a lot of science to back it up.

We are the only culture in the world that thinks snacking all day long is necessary or healthy, and that has only become a thing over the past 40-50 years. Think about it. Or better yet, read about it. I cannot recommend The Obesity Code highly enough.

I probably didn’t answer all of the questions people have, but hopefully I hit the highlights.

Basically, I feel like I’m finally hitting my stride with IF, and I’m so glad I stayed the course through a few rough weeks.

When I listen to people on Gin’s podcasts who are 6 and 12 months in, I get really eager to find out where IF will take me.

I think I’m finally fat adapted, and I’m happy with the weight loss I’ve seen so far and how easy it is to fast. I hope to start reaping more health benefits as I continue with this lifestyle.